There are few watches that get an instantaneous waitlist and the Rolex GMT Master II is no exception. Rolex is one of the most recognized brands in the world and, with that, one of the most exclusive. The 2018 release of the, long awaited steel GMT Master II with a ceramic “Pepsi” bezel earned rave reviews. And like many Rolex sport models it is now fetching a premium in the pre-owned market because of the demand.
The “Little Brother”
So, this all sounds like bad news unless you have a connection, but at the same time Rolex released the GMT Master II, Tudor, Rolex’s little brother, released the Heritage Black Bay GMT. The Black Bay Heritage is one of Tudor’s most successful lines and the addition of their first GMT only solidifies this. So, let’s compare the Rolex GMT Master II and the Tudor Black Bay GMT.
The Rolex GMT Master II 126710 “Pepsi”
First, the Rolex. The 126710 GMT Master II is the 8th generation of the GMT Master line, and in true Rolex fashion the updates are subtle. One of the main differences is aesthetic. Rolex updated the “Pepsi” bezel to Cerachrom, Rolex’s proprietary ceramic. Rolex also cleaned up the jubilee end links making the transition into the case more seamless. The case remains 40mm, but the lugs were thinned out ever-so-slightly also helping make a cleaner transition to the bracelet. They also switched out the clasp of the jubilee to an Oysterlock with an easy adjust link. The watch also received the new caliber 3285 with a Chronergy escapement and a 70-hour power reserve. Another change is a small detail where the dial gained an additional coronet between the words “Swiss” and “Made” at 6 o’clock. All in all, the update was subtle, but more importantly, it is what the people wanted. This is a perfect example of a modern GMT
The Tudor Black Bay Heritage 79830RB
Now onto the “little brother”, the Tudor Black Bay GMT. This is the first GMT in the Black Bay line and man is it a solid rookie appearance. The Tudor comes in a 41mm case with a 21mm bracelet. It also has the iconic red and blue GMT bezel, but this one is made from aluminum, giving it a more traditional, vintage feel. The matte dial also adds to this aesthetic. Where we feel the Tudor really shines is with its in house movement and 70-hour power reserve. Plus, it’s a true GMT movement. Just like the Rolex, it has the jumping hour hand. This shows that Tudor is not messing around with the quality of their watches. They’re not content just being the “little brother” – they’re ready to set themselves apart.
Now if we start looking at them side by side, we can see how similar they really are. The Rolex case design is a testament to decades of refinement and hugs the wrist perfectly. The Tudor also sits nicely on the wrist but is a much thicker timepiece. The thickness of the Black Bay is definitely a design choice on Tudor’s part, but may not be suitable for smaller wrists. The faux riveted design of the Tudor bracelet is a nice touch, and it adds to that vintage appeal. But the Rolex Jubilee bracelet is next level, especially when you are looking at the clasps. The Rolex clasp is a tank! And also, there are the differences in bezels. Where the Tudor has the more traditional aluminum insert Rolex has continued with their ceramic bezel and the platinum-dusted numbers. Inherently this costs more.
Which “Pepsi” is Right for You?
When we break down the comparison you can start to see where the Rolex inches ahead in manufacturing and exclusivity. But the Tudor embodies the tool watch mentality so much more than the Rolex and creates a nostalgia for the tool watches of old. Both watches are solid choices, and ultimately the decisions going to come down to what you can and cannot get. Personally, I go back and forth on which I prefer and it’s an ongoing debate around the office too. Let us know which one you like and why. And thanks for watching.